For early value picks, springtime might seem very far away, as the winter weather seems to get worse each day, but we are actually less than 90 days away from the Cheltenham Festival (12th-15th March).
We have already seen some strong performances from the likes of Altior and Buveur D’Air in the early part of the jumps season, but they are, of course, very short-priced for glory at the 2019 Festival.Instead, we are going to look at some horses that are showing value right now, perhaps enough to warrant an ante-post punt with some free bets for Cheltenham.
In the end, they might be worth a shot to nothing.
Kalashnikov (7/2), Mengli Khan (5/1) and Lalor (8/1) are leading the current odds for the Arkle with William Hill, but Dynamite Dollars was impressive in winning the King Henry VIII Novices’ Chase a few weeks ago.
Lalor was well beaten in the race, finishing back in 3rd nearly 12 lengths behind Dynamite Dollars. Look, Paul Nicholls’ horse still needs a bit of work and hasn’t got a stellar record, but the signs have been good in recent weeks.
14/1 looks a big price at the moment, with those odds certainly tumbling if the 5-year-old continues on his current trajectory.
Defi Du Seuil – JLT Novices’ Chase
It seemed like the switch from hurdles to chasing hadn’t really worked out for Phillip Hobbes’ 5-year-old, after Defi Du Seuil looked all over the place when finishing last in the Arkle Trial in November.
However, Defi Du Seuil looked assured and stayed on well when winning at Exeter a couple of weeks later. The horse has class, already with a big win at the Festival in the 2017 JCB Triumph under his belt.
If Hobbes can get Defi Du Seuil back to somewhere near his 2017 best, it could be the trainer’s best chance of a big winner. 14/1 is offered by Ladbrokes and Coral for the JLT Novices’ Chase. One to keep an eye on.
Bristol De Mai – Cheltenham Gold Cup
You will get plenty saying that Nigel-Twiston Davies’ brilliant grey is a Haydock specialist, by way of those victories in the Betfair Chase.
However, Bristol De Mai was mightily impressive in the latest victory there, and any win over a field that contains Might Bite, Native River and Thistlecrack has to be respected. You would expect at least two of those to be among the top of the odds for the Gold Cup 2019 (Presenting Percy is the current 9/2 favourite with Betfair followed by 2018 winner Native River at 11/2), but isn’t the 20/1 Bristol De Mai worth a look?
A big test will be the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day where Bristol De Mai faltered last season. However, if he gets close to winning at Kempton, those 20/1 early value odds for the Gold Cup will drop.
Faugheen – Stayers’ Hurdle
Great horses do the unexpected and don’t always follow the narrative set out by pundits and bookies. There is no doubt that Faugheen is a great horse, but is he too old (Faugheen will be 11 at the Festival) to pull off a special win in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham?
If the Faugheen that destroyed Penhill in the 2018 Irish Champions Stayers’ Hurdle in April turns up, then yes. If the horse that limped to second on his season debut turns up, then no.
William Hill have gone 12/1 on Faugheen – that’s twice as big as any starting price Faugheen has had in his entire career. Regardless, a win for the Irish hero would be something special to behold.